Should we put the kids in charge?

Can you imagine what the world would look like if it were run by children? We all know that our youngest generations are the future of humanity, but what would happen if that responsibility was thrust upon them before they were ready? Every child, at one point or another, dreams of waking up to a world free of adults, but if it actually happened, they probably wouldn’t know what to do with themselves.

Would they play games and party while the world fell apart around them? Or would they be able to come together and keep our society running smoothly?

In our society, most responsibilities are handled by people 18 years old and older–the adults. Without them, the world would get chaotic pretty quickly.

Most airplanes and other transit systems would come to a crashing halt. And it would only be a matter of time before the production of power, heat, and other important resources stopped too.

The children would turn to the oldest remaining inhabitants of the Earth, and humanity’s last chance of survival: teenagers. Teenagers may not have the best reputation in the world, especially for being reliable or responsible, but they have been known to step up in times of crisis.

Any initial excitement they might have about the absence of adults, such as being able to drink alcohol, or never having to go to school again would be very short-lived. Remember, if they discovered that millions of people, their loved ones included, had vanished; it would cause severe psychological and emotional distress, not to mention that the world would be falling apart around them.

Without ongoing maintenance, fossil fuel power would stop first, followed by nuclear, wind, and solar power. All that would be left would be hydroelectric power, and even that would only last a few months.

Perhaps some teenagers who had done co-ops at power stations, or had grown up with parents in that field could step up to try and keep things running, but there’s no guarantee they’d be successful. In the past, teens have demonstrated a strong ability to rally together and start movements using social media, but with minimal power, the internet would not last for long.

With limited options for communiciation and transportation, the children and teenagers would start to revert to their tribal past, they’d band together with neighbors and work out survival techniques among themselves. Teenagers would be forced into maturity out of necessity, and the odds are they’d be pretty good at it.

We’ve seen them excel before, and studies have even shown that teens are barely inferior to adults in terms of the core competencies that define adulthood. With the institutional knowledge of how to progress as far as humanity had, these new leaders would be more than capable of building it back up to that point.

The world’s towns and cities would stabilize at different times. Villages that relied less on technology would find it easier to live without it.

And although fear and frustration might make it tempting to use violence to gain whatever resources remained, the only way the civilization would survive is through cooperation. As societies returned to a steady flow of producing the food, goods and resources they need to survive, other aspects of life, such as government, trade, and even recreation, could be re-established.

On the bright side, there would probably be a great ecological benefit, as carbon emissions and resource extraction would drop significantly. Plus, our society would basically get a giant reboot, spearheaded by leaders who understood the need to cooperate and work together to ensure survival.

This attitude could encourage equality, the acceptance of our different skills, talents and ethnic backgrounds, and help make wise choices that would preserve the Earth.

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